Free Software in the Portuguese Parlment

So, as I've wrote previously, today was the day where a proposal to deploy Free Software in the Portuguese Parliement was voted. I knew about it thanks to a document in a non-free format, knew the whole schedule for the day thanks to a document in a non-free format, read the entire proposal, made by Partido Comunista Português, in a document in a non-free format, assisted and recorded it thanks to a video stream in a non-free format, but I won't refrain my self to speak out freely my thoughts about it.

First of all, this is one of those matters that is important to a hell lot of people, and if I'm talking about this one because this is one matter that quite interests me, I have little doubt that most of the other things discussed in the Parliement matter to a hell lot of (different, perhaps) people. I have an advantage, tho: I'm what can be considered a techno-litered, someone who knows about computers and how to use them. Most people wouldn't "so easily" find the proposal, the date, the schedule, how to assist and even less record it as I did. "So easily" wasn't easy at all: as a matter of fact I think I had a lot of luck because the Parliement makes no efforts whatsoever to make this things public. After all, it's our money and freedom they're talking about.

The proposal was simple and well conceived. Make Free Software available in the Portuguese Parliement, so everyone could have the freedom to use it. Lessons on how to use the chosen Free Software to those interested in it. Start using free and open document formats so everyone (even out of the Parliement) could have free access to those documents. Research the benefits of a migration to Free Software from the "multiple choices" scenario, and debate the results one year later.

The result was "approval of proposal, with changes". The changes made the propose this: "Make Free Software available in the Portuguese Parliement, so everyone can have the freedom to use it".

Now, I don't know the kind of access each deputy has to his own terminal in the Parliement, but what I know is that if instead of this proposal someone just decided to install free software in its terminal, or, if they don't have the permission, if they asked their helpdesk to do so, they could have it without all this fuss. In other words, this "approval" does not approve anything, it's just them mocking with the Portuguese people. I wonder why the hell am I paying their salaries.

Giving them the choice but not teaching them how to use it is the same as not giving them the choice. Refusing to give free access to the Parliement documents by choosing to keep a close format (Microsoft's) instead of a standard one (ODF) is discriminating the Portuguese people who do not use that proprietary format. I have to add to this one that the affirmation from Partido Socialista stating that "everyone can access to our documents) was outrageous: most of all a statement of "we're voting on a matter we don't know nothing about". Refusing to research the benefits of a migration to Free Software is the same as missing the whole point. The proposal was "let's take a look to the options", refusing that is saying "shut up and be quiet".

Overall, this "approval" was no approval at all. It was a loud and clear "SHUT THE FUCK UP" to Partido Comunista Português. This is the Parliement we have here.

Thanks to PCP for raising the issue. Thanks to Ubuntu-PT, Porto Linux, ANSOL for trying to give some information (and CD's) to the deputies, even if that information was completely ignored.